The Paladins have already won six of their first eight contests with the lone losses to Class 6-AAAAAA foes North Gwinnett and Mountain View.
“The girls have come out strong to start the season and we’ve earned home wins against our biggest competitors, including Atlanta International and Pinecrest,” said Leah Smith, who returns for her second season as the Fellowship Christian head coach. “I’ve been impressed with the team’s quickness, hitting ability, power and willingness to hit the floor.”
The charge has been led by a core of seniors, including middle Kasey Shannon, who Smith says is one of the strongest hitters and blockers on the team, Baylee Corbett and outside hitter AJ Baumann. “AJ is a very consistent player who is mentally strong and a solid player for us in the back row,” said assistant coach Bob Germaine.
The Paladins have also received a solid contribution from freshman outside hitter Shelby Villar, who represents the program’s philosophy of versatility towards its varsity team on the court and the makeup of the roster. “We don’t have a deep bench and we’ve tried to get the ten best players possible for our varsity team,” Smith stated. “Three of our players switch between the front and back rows. Our rotation sets up so that all ten players get into the game and stay involved during the entire contest.”
Involvement has become a major theme for the Fellowship Christian program, which has a separate set of players for the varsity and junior varsity team. This proves difficult for private schools with smaller enrollments in comparison to its public school contemporaries.
“All of our high school players went to the Southern Volleyball Center and the A5 Volleyball program ran camps for them,” said Smith. “The girls are involved with A5 year-around and that gives them a leg up on the competition. A5 founder Bob Westbrook will work with us this season as well.”
The hopes are high for the Paladins to represent the county and the community on a grander scale. “We’re more athletic this season as a unit and played well against the public schools at the tournament earlier this year,” Smith said. “We’ve already beaten two teams in our area at home and can do it again.”